This was my first trip to the Carson City Offroad; the final stop in the three-race Epic Rides series. These epic rides events always find quirky towns to host the races, and Carson City is no exception. It’s got a very similar feel to Prescott (home of the Whiskey 50). It’s an “Old West” town, with lots of optimistic architecture, but a decidedly tired feel. I hope the race can go some way to changing that, as the potential for mountain biking here is huge, and the town seemed really receptive to hosting the event and building a reputation for good riding.
I started the race in 4th on the overall standings. Much was made of the battle between Kyle Trudeau and I for the third place overall, but looking at the time differences, I would have had to put over 5 minutes into him to knock him out the way. I was more concerned with Payson McElveen just a minute or so back from me. Either way, I didn’t really start the race with the overall standings in mind, but more my normal goal of “no mistakes”.
The race started on King’s Canyon Road. The pace was fiery for what would be a long day on the bike. I got dropped from the main bunch, and instead of competing for the holeshot into the trail, I ended up losing two minutes to the leaders by the top of the first climb. The legs didn’t want to push any harder, and I don’t know why. I was descending well, though, and over the course of the race, was happy to see that I was consistently 10-15 seconds faster than the leaders down the singletrack descent. When you’re losing minutes on the climb, gaining seconds on the way back down isn’t going to help. It was fun descending with Taylor Lideen on the first lap though, even if he later found out he’d already snapped his frame.
The descending did help get me back in the race a little, and after the first lap (of three), I’d moved up well and felt like I could get back into it. By the second time up the climb, I’d caught a lot of people, and was riding in about 14th. I thought I could salvage something from the event, and maybe get into the prize money to cover my costs. Again, the second lap descent went well in terms of speed, but I’ve struggled with my hands and arms going numb when going downhill. Not sure what the problem is, as my bike fit is really good, and I worked a lot on upper back strength at RevoPT this winter. I’m going to get on a pair of the Ergon GA2 grips and see whether that helps. I haven’t used Ergon grips for a few years, so excited to see if that makes things better.
Lap three: I moved into the chase group for 10th, and quickly reeled in Spencer Paxson in 9th on the bottom of the climb. I finally felt like I expected to going into the race, and even if I’d lost the chance of a podium with a terrible opening lap, I knew I could get a top 10.
Then I flatted. On the climb.
I think a combination of lost concentration and over enthusiasm to pull back Spencer had me not paying attention to the small rocky sections on the climb. I pinched the bead of my tire, and had to put a tube in. It took me 10 minutes to fix the flat, which is more than twice as long as a smooth fix should take. My first CO2 cartridge failed, and the second one got me to “just about OK” pressure. It meant I had to baby the tire around the last lap, an extra kick in the teeth after the time wasted fixing the flat. I gained a few of the places I lost, but by that point in the race the time gaps were so large that I was never going to claw my way to where I wanted to be.
I finished in 16th place, and failed to really muster much emotion about it. I’d lost my placing in the overall, dropping out of the top 5, and left the event without any prize money.
Coming into the season I told my coach that I was fed up with being consistently “good”, and instead wanted to push myself to get some “excellent” results. The trade-off there was going to be the risk of performing mediocrely sometimes in order to build some more fitness and get to a higher level. I think that’s the path I’m on at the moment. GoPro games last weekend was a poor race, this weekend was better, as the sensations did come around in the end. It’s now two weeks away from my first World Cup this year in Andorra, and I’m really confidently that I can put it all together in time to get a good result. The overall goal for the season (british national championships), is another month away, and I’m feeling like I’ll be flying by then. Looking forward to making the final tweaks to get things straight, and see what happens when I do.